Photographers Worry “Personal Rights Protection Act” Will Hamper Business

LITTLE ROCK, AR – Professional photographers are fighting back against a bill some say will harm their business.

It’s called the “Personal Rights Protection Act and provides limitations on how pictures of you, taken in public view, can be used.

The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) says the implications of Senate Bill 79 are staggering. They worry if a photographer snaps a picture of a crowd, they’d have to get written consent from every single person in order to use that picture.

Cindy Momchilov spends most of her time looking out through a camera lens for her company, Camera Work Inc., in Little Rock.

Monday (3/30) though, she stepped out from behind it to stand up against the bill.

“My first question was what were they thinking?” she said. “I don’t understand who this law serves.”

Photography groups like ASMP around the nation have voiced their opposition to the “Personal Rights Protection Act” which has passed both the House and Senate and is just waiting on the Governor’s signature.

Many believe if Momchilov is on the street taking pictures, anybody who happens to be in the shot, would have to provide written consent. Otherwise, they worry if the picture ends up being used commercially, those people in the shot, could sue.

Momchilov added, “I don’t know who this law is designed to protect but it will make a mess of commercial photography.”

According to the Bill Arkansans “Should have the use of their names, voices, signatures, photographs, and likenesses protected for their benefit and the benefit of their families.”

Where many photographers like Momchilov take issue, they say the bill keeps the shutter open to lawsuits while closing the shutter to what pictures they can take and how they use them.

The Bill says it sets out to “Protect the … citizens of this state from exploitation and unauthorized commercial use without a citizen’s consent.”

SB79 defines “commercial use” as advertising, fundraising or obtaining money, goods, or services.

Certain exceptions of the bill are provided and include news, public affairs, or sports broadcast. It also extends the fair use to a single and original work of art that is not a portrait, photograph, or likeness.

Supporters of the Bill counter concerns over photographing a crowd by pointing out a subdivision of the bill in the fair use section which makes it ok to “depict the individual’s role as a member of the public if the individual is not named or otherwise singled out”.

Legislative sponsors of the bill insist anything photographers can do now, they will still be able to do once SB79 goes into effect. They suggest reading past the headline of the bill.

Co-sponsor, Representative Greg Leding says the “Personal Rights Protection Act” provides a recourse for people to protect themselves and their name or image from being used for commercial gain.

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